Retention of new words: Quantity of encounters, quality of task, and degree of knowledge

Batia Laufer, Bella Rozovski-Roitblat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined how learning new second language (L2) words was affected by three ‘task type’ conditions (reading only, reading with a dictionary, reading and word focused exercises), three ‘number of encounters’ conditions and their combinations. Three groups of L2 learners (n = 185) were exposed to 30 target words (one group in each task condition) and to three ‘number of encounters’ conditions (10 words in each condition) during 11 weeks of regular studies. Delayed unexpected post-tests tested four degrees of knowledge of the target words. Reading with word focused exercises yielded the best results, regardless of type of word knowledge and the number of encounters with the target words. The number of encounters had different effects in different task conditions. We conclude that what learners do with the word may be more important than how many times they encounter it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-711
Number of pages25
JournalLanguage Teaching Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 25 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.


  • Encounters
  • lexis
  • retention
  • task
  • vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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